Thursday, 17 November 2011

Pictures by Chinese Children

If I asked children at primary school to draw me a picture I think I’d probably get a few pirate ships, aliens or fluffy kittens. If you’d asked the same thing in 1970s China you might have got rather different results. How about a nice drawing of “Peasant Uncles delivering grain to the State"
or perhaps this picture entitled “Lets all criticize Lin Piao and Confucius.”

Maybe I should ask the kids to do me picture of the Euro Zone debt crisis... could be interesting! I picked up this book from a charity shop and it’s a catalogue from a 1970s exhibition of Chinese childrens art. The images are a remarkable documentation of life in China at that time. The political propaganda is very evident throughout, and it’s quite amusing to look at it now as it is so extreme it comes across as, well, a little bit bonkers. The bottom picture has the title "We sing "The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is Fine." Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." There is of course a more serious aspect to all that brainwashing, but I don’t want to get too heavy. Some of the pictures actually makes me question whether they were by children at all, because although they are admittedly done in a naïve style ,they have a sophistication that seems far more adult. I suppose in a country as large as China you would get your fair share of prodigies. Maybe the whole thing is part of the propaganda. I’m not sure it really ultimately matters to me though, as I like them for what they are regardless of the age of the person who did them.

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